10th Anniversary Edition
PROFILES i n
Opening thoughts from the Director of the J.V. Morsch Center for Social Justice One of my greatest joys as director of the J.V. Morsch Center for Social Justice is listening to prospective students share their dreams to be the hands and feet of Christ in a broken world. Jamie Casler, Director of the J.V. Morsch Center for Social Justice
I also enjoy meeting the parents who have modeled compassion and answering their thoughtful questions about the major. One of the important questions asked during these initial meetings is, “what type of careers are in store for a social justice major?” This is my favorite question to answer as I tell story after story of the amazing work taking place through social justice alumni around the globe! In this special edition of the Micah Mandate, we honor the life-giving work and dedication of our social justice students and alumni as they engage the broken systems of our world, such as human trafficking, orphan care, homelessness and food deserts, to facilitate healing, peace and shalom—God’s original intention for creation. As we celebrate the 10th year of the J.V. Morsch Center for Social Justice, we celebrate the social justice majors and alumni who are living out their callings to seek biblical justice. As they harness the tools gleaned throughout the social justice major, these current and/or former students aim to alleviate poverty and restore broken lives and communities toward wholeness.
Volume 7 10th Anniversary Edition Jamie Casler
Director of the J.V. Morsch Center for Social Justice
Jo Ellen Werking-Weedman Faculty Editorial Supervisor
Student Editor Blake Stewart
Student Writers Brooklyn Dance Mary Eaton Alexis Garcia Princess Jones Andrew Preston Blake Stewart Morgan Woolum
Contact Information Micah Mandate Trevecca Nazarene University 333 Murfreesboro Road Nashville, TN 37210 www.trevecca.edu/socialjustice The Micah Mandate is a student project of the Trevecca Multimedia Journalism program in partnership with the J.V. Morsch Center for Social Justice. Trevecca Multimedia Journalism students write, edit and design the magazine, working closely with the Center for Social Justice to tell the stories of issues that impact our communities and highlight students, alumni and faculty who are committed to biblical social justice. For more information about Trevecca’s Multimedia Journalism program, visit www.trevecca.edu/ journalism
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IN THIS ISSUE
RETURNING HOME: DOMINIC OBUNAKA
HELPING HANDS FOR HAITI
PLANTING THE SEEDS OF NASHVILLE
BRINGING HOMES TO THE HOMELESS
MARCHING FOR FOOD JUSTICE
ENTREPRENEUR WITH A MISSION
NEP EMPOWERS LOCAL NON-PROFITS
ALUM TRAVELS WORLD IN 334 DAYS
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Micah Mandate 3
Dominic Obunaka spends time with children in Nairobi.
After sending money earned from his on-campus job to kids back home, Trojan basketball player Dominic Obunaka plans to return to Kenya to educate farmers on environmental justice By Alexis Garcia Dominic Obunaka has spent his years at Trevecca studying environmental justice and playing basketball, but he’s never disconnected from his home in Kenya. The Trevecca senior is preparing to graduate and plans to take his education and skills back to Nairobi, Kenya, a place he has loved from afar by sending all his student worker income to five children in his home village. “I sponsor the kids with my own money. I save the money I make by working here in school in plant operations,” said Obunaka. “Hopefully in 10 years, I will have plenty of other kids I can sponsor because I want them to have a better opportunity in education.” In addition to providing money for school to children, Obunaka plans to move back home and use his farming skills he learned in his environmental justice classes for good. “Kenya has a lot of potential. I want to use my education to educate farmers on how to grow crops,” said Obunaka. “We need to educate the society about the environment and how they can help out each other to
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pass down to generations.” He dreams of freedom and sustainability for his home. “First of all, we need freedom. Having the liberty to walk around wherever you want without anyone hurting you is good. We need a sustainable society where people receive benefits,” he said. Obunaka’s passion came with him to Trevecca, said Jamie Casler, director of the J.V. Morsch Center for Social Justice. “What Dominic has is passion, and you can’t teach passion. You can shape,” says Casler. “Dominic has the skills from the social justice major to fix the broken areas and bring healing to his community. He will create opportunity for new people to flourish and explore new things.” Obunaka is well suited to help his community, not just because of what he’s learned, but because of how connected he is to the people, Casler said. “We look at poverty and know there are people in need, but we do not see the richness of the community because we don’t look in deeper,” said Casler. “Dominic has looked deeply at his community.” Obunaka said what he learned at Trevecca
has empowered him. “I learned about rights and how to be a better human,” he said. “The government has an obligation to provide access to food and things the community needs.” Obunaka said many in the United States, including college students, can start making a difference right now. “If you have extra money, you can send some of it to another country to a kid,” said Obunaka. “If everyone decides to pick one kid, I promise you this world would change.” One day, he looks forward to seeing the return on his investments in children. “When I’m 40-years-old and sit down and view what I did with my life, I’m going to see these small kids grow up to be someone in life.”
Multimedia Journalism Class of 2019
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Helping hands for Haiti
By Morgan Woolum Rebecca Foshee has grown up with the organization that launched her career. The Trevecca graduate went on her first short-term mission trip with Hands and Feet Project in 2009. Today, she’s on staff with the organization and helping them come up with strategies for long-term investment in Haiti. Foshee, who earned a social justice degree in 2012, has spent the past several years getting to know the people of Haiti. “It was heavy on my heart, the inconsistency and them only knowing of people leaving, and I didn’t want to be one of those people,” she said. Hands and Feet was launched in 2004 after members of the band Audio Adrenaline had an epiphany. Not only did they want to sing about doing mission work--they wanted to be active participants in the work, as well. The organization focuses on building orphanages and creating more jobs in the local economy. “We are fighting poverty, and when we are fighting poverty we are fighting against the orphan crisis, because we are aware that poverty is contributing to the orphan crisis,” said Foshee, who now serves as the trip administrator for Hands and Feet. Foshee began volunteering with Hands and Feet Project during college. After
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attending a few mission trips out of the country, she felt a calling to work in orphan care. She said she wanted to be someone who could be consistent in the lives of the children she was serving. When she began working full time for the organization, she and Mark Stuart, guitarist of Audio Adrenaline and executive director and co-founder of Hands and Feet, started dreaming of a new way to help Haiti. As the organization was learning how to do orphan care better, helping to fight the orphan crisis and how to improve mission trips, they came up with the idea of working with the Haitian people to equip them with work. They want to do more than just build orphanages. They want to provide jobs. They are creating a guest village, called Ikondo located in Grand Goave, for tourists. The mission is to provide jobs to Haitian parents in crisis by creating more opportunity for work. The guest village will provide assistance for families that need help sustaining themselves. The hope is families will be able to stay together and keep their children. “The ultimate goal is to just create this dignified opportunity for employment and to equip our friends there, that they can really do it on their own,” said Foshee.
Rebecca and her son with a long time friend and her son.
Morgan Woolum Multimedia Journalism Class of 2019
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Aaron Palmer: Bringing homes to the homeless The 2014 graduate has worked for the Rescue Mission, Room in the Inn and Safe Haven Family Shelter, a non-profit that provides housing to the homeless. By Mary Eaton It’s 9 a.m. on a dry, winter morning in Nashville when Aaron Palmer of Safe Haven Family Shelter welcomes a once homeless family into their new permanent home. Palmer, a 2014 Trevecca graduate, is a housing specialist for Safe Haven, a shelter-to-housing program that keeps homeless families together and empowers them to achieve lasting self-sufficiency. On this morning, Palmer and those at Safe Haven are finally able to see this family’s housing plan come to fruition. Palmer graduated from Trevecca’s social justice program, after transferring to Trevecca mid-way through his junior year when he realized his passion for working with those in poverty.
Palmer attributes this passion to his Nazarene upbringing. “Growing up Nazarene, there was always a huge significance placed on missions,” said Palmer. But often he would find himself asking the question, “What about those within the States?” That’s what Palmer says led him to work with people living in poverty in America, specifically those experiencing homelessness. The social justice program and the J.V. Morsch Center for Social Justice, is unique to Trevecca, being the only social justice program within a Nazarene University in the United States. “The social justice program is interdisciplinary, and helps to prepare students for different paths while remaining in the helping profession,” said Jamie Casler, director of the J.V. Morsch Center for Social Justice. While attending Trevecca, Palmer took classes focused on non-profit work and congregational leadership. Although his degree is in social justice, the social justice program at Trevecca allowed Palmer to take courses in other departments at Trevecca such as business, social work, theology and religion.
Aaron Palmer in office at Safe Haven
He also went to work for local nonprofits. “I started working at the Rescue Mission near the beginning of my senior year at Trevecca, so by the time I graduated I had already been in the field for almost a year,” said Palmer. Since graduating, Palmer has worked for the Rescue Mission as a case manager for the homeless, Room in the Inn, and now Safe Haven Family Shelter. Because of his work with Safe Haven, and the challenges of securing housing for the homeless, Palmer has considered pursuing a degree in public policy, specifically in economic development. “Poverty and homelessness lead into each other, and my hopes are to assist the families and set them up with case managers that can help them maintain their housing,” said Palmer. “The next hurdle will be figuring the other systemic pressures that perpetuate poverty, like wage issues and educational opportunities.”
“Poverty and homelessness lead into each other.”
Palmer works as a housing specialist to transfer families from homeless shelters to more permanent housing at Safe-Haven Family Shelter.
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Communications Studies Class of 2019
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Planting the seeds of justice
Booth Jewett, a 2015 graduate, says his time on the Urbam Farm at Trevecca inspired him to start a non-profit to teach others to grow food.
By Brooklyn Dance When Booth Jewett was a student at Trevecca he began to dream of farming to feed communities. This year he will move onto a 65-acre farm just west of Nashville to do just that. Jewett, a 2015 graduate, studied environmental justice at Trevecca and was inspired to start Just Plant the Seed, a nonprofit that teaches creation care and builds farming blueprints. “I fell in love with the initial pursuit of trying to live in right relationship with each other and with the earth. That’s kind of where I’ve landed, I’ve been pursuing that personally and professionally ever since,” Jewett said. Upon graduating, Jewett took a job at local farm, Bloomsbury Farms in Smyrna, Tenn. “The Trevecca Urban Farm does a lot around justice issues and farming,” Jewett said. “[I was] really looking forward to getting to see a real operation of a farm feeding people in a city.” Jewett worked at Bloomsbury Farms for one year before transitioning to the Nashville Food Project, where he has worked for two years now. “[The Nashville Food Project] also works with local farms, but from a nonprofit viewpoint, focusing on food recovery and curving food waste,” Jewett said. During the transition between jobs, Jewett was also managing “Just Plant the Seed.” The first few years, Jewett focused on working in collaboration with other farms, because he did not have a farm of his own. This year, Jewett is moving to a 65-acre farm in Kingston Springs, Tenn. that the owners are allowing Jewett to live and
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work on, believing in his mission. “It’s really exciting to be taking the next step in our journey of business,” Jewett said. “Hopefully it will catapult us from a teaching-only focus to more of a practicebased business, to growing food for the community of Nashville.” Jewett credits his passion for social justice to growing up in the Salvation Army and then studying at Trevecca. “Because of my upbringing, I knew I cared about social issues. I knew I cared about the poor, and had been in that setting for years. But [I had] never made the connection with the poor and the earth before,” Jewett said. “A light bulb went off.” While at Trevecca, Jewett studied under Jason Adkins, environmental projects coordinator, and he worked on the Urban Farm. “Jason had a profound impact on me. I think Jason’s gifts as a teacher were really influential to me,” Jewett said. “He introduced me to a solid framework of agriculture from a perspective of ministry and urban outreach, agriculture from a lens of working alongside the poor. He exposed me to a lot of really great people in the industry that have had a profound impact of me going forward – the Wendell Barrys of the world.” Adkins says Jewett understands social justice at its core. “He has a really strong grasp of the theology and philosophy in which the practices of agrarianism and environmental justice are founded,” Adkins said. “When I think of Booth, it evokes a very rich hope for the future. I’m glad he’s at work in the world.
Jewett, a 2005 gradaute, spends his time farming to grow food for the community. Jewett is excited for his move to the farm and the potential opportunities it brings for his business. “When I think of what success is when I think of me and my family, it’s less about making all the money in the world. I would love to see Just Plant The Seed become a place where we can be a living, breathing example of biblical social justice, and people can see what it looks like to live in right relationship with community, with our ecosystem. A place where people can come and experience rest,” he said. “That’s what Just Plant The Seed is all about, teaching people to pursue justice from a place of health in relationship with our God, ourselves, our community and our place. I’m excited for this phase that we are stepping into this year.”
Brooklyn Dance Multimedia Journalism Class of 2019
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Marching for food justice
Student moved to action by stories of migrant farmers
By Blake Stewart After making the more than 13-hour drive to Immokalee, Fla., Brenda Ayala, junior social justice major, listened to the heartbreaking stories of migrant workers being verbally abused and sexually assaulted. “Hearing the women tell their stories of being abused and how the work of activists has improved their lives made me commit to fighting for them and ignited my passion for food activism,” said Ayala. Since then, Ayala has become the point person on campus for organizing protests and raising awareness of food injustice. Ayala and other members of Trevecca’s Student Farmworker Alliance Chapter hit the streets with Vanderbilt University students and members of Nashville’s Fair Food project to host a march in protest of Vanderbilt’s contract with Wendy’s. They wanted Vanderbilt to end their contract with Wendy’s unless the company agreed to buy their produce from farms who agree to the criteria of the Fair Food Program. The program, an alliance of farms that provide living wages and humane working conditions, is a national effort to protect farm workers. Ayala lead the effort and recruited others to join her. “Brenda was the head organizer at Trevecca and reached out to other students at universities around Nashville,” said Maria Robles, sophomore social justice major. Ayala and other students from Vanderbilt fasted for the protest at Vanderbilt. Robles said she had to help some of the students fasting to walk up the steps at the march. “Seeing the persistence Brenda has in her activism is what drove me to continue my volunteer and activism work,” said Robles. Wage theft is a cause closely connected to Ayala’s background. “My family has been victims of wage theft and it’s been tough for them as immigrants being in the workforce,” said Ayala. “I wanted to prevent that from happening to anyone that I knew or in the communities,” she said. Ayala’s father was contracted through a company to do a roofing job in Nashville many years ago and was promised a pay that he
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never received. Ayala’s father didn’t know what to do and there were no resources available at the time. “There was that fear of getting in trouble with the law because you are undocumented,” said Ayala. “We sometimes have a lack of knowledge of our rights which makes it easy for us to be mistreated.” Gaining knowledge and being educated in worker’s rights became a defining factor in Ayala’s desire to seek social justice in her community. That desire would lead to her coming to Trevecca to seek a degree in social justice and continued work in activism. But, her work started at the age of 16. After high school Ayala began working with Workers Dignity, a Nashville-based organization dedicated to preventing wage theft and abuse of workers. “A lot of immigrant workers I’ve worked with were intimidated because they weren’t educated on their rights and if we want to make a change in the future we need to get kids involved in activities that focus on the mindset of helping people and educating them on issues of importance around the world,” said Ayala Organizations like Workers Dignity paved the way for Ayala’s work in activism and led to her most current volunteer work with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) alliance. “My admiration with the CIW and their success tackling a variety of issues like sexual harassment, modern-day slavery, wage theft, verbal abuse and lack of breaks in the fields has inspired me to use my privilege to help them as much as I can,” said Ayala. This sparked an interest in getting the Nashville community and Trevecca students involved in taking a stand for worker’s rights. Ayala took a bus to a farmworker retreat
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Students protest Vanderbilt’s contract with Wendy’s. in St. Petersburg, Fla. last year, where she met with CIW staff to learn more about the vision of expanding the organizations work and helping them come up with strategies to get students involved. Ayala is bringing the work of the CIW in Immokalee, Fla. to Nashville by bringing the fight for worker’s rights to Trevecca’s campus where she started a Student/Farmworker Alliance chapter. “Brenda influenced me and is the reason I got into Nashville Fair Food,” said Vanessa Delgado, senior social justice major. “She has been instrumental in bringing awareness to be a better consumer.” Ayala’s study of professional non-profit and congregational leadership have given her the tools she needs to get students and faculty more involved. “Brenda and her friends brought me from the sidelines and into an active role,” said Jason Adkins, environmental projects coordinator. “They pushed me to get involved in advocating for them and their community. I don’t want to be someone that just talks about issues–I want to be involved. I see a deep commitment and sacrifice in what Brenda is doing.” Ayala wants to take what she has learned in
the classroom and her activism work and use it as a platform to make change. “We have a chance to improve conditions for many people and to support the marginalized as they try to take back their dignity,” says Ayala. “ The next time Trevecca students go to a grocery store, I want them to think about the blood, sweat and tears that people had to go through to receive that red juicy tomato.”
Multimedia Journalism Class of 2018
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Entrepreneur launches business to fuel economies in developing countries For many years, Lucas Reed had a passion to help others. He now has a company called “Rippl,” which collects shoes to create inventory for family businesses in developing countries.
By Princess Jones It started with a question: “Who here has both parents at home?” Only five out of the 100 boys raised their hands. That’s when Lucas Reed became passionate about his basketball ministry for at-risk boys. A ministry that launched his path to Trevecca and running his own company. Reed, a 2014 graduate of the J.V. Morsch Center for Social Justice, is the founder of Rippl, a spin- off company of Soles4Souls that collects shoes to create inventory for family businesses in developing countries. “At the end of my freshman year of college, I saw the need for men to pour into other young men–especially in high school for those that don’t have fathers present in their household,” said Reed. So, he started a basketball ministry called Game-On while attending a college in Chattanooga, Tenn.. Then, he heard about the social justice program at Trevecca. “When I found out about the social justice program here at Trevecca, it lined up with what I was doing with the basketball ministry. It just made sense. I really loved the program and what it was about,” said Reed. After graduation, Reed took a job at Soles4Souls and asked a question that resulted in him launching his business. “I asked the question ‘How do we get to a 100 million pair a year?’ It’s not that there are not shoes out there that’s not the question. The question is, how do we get those shoes?”
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Reed said it was at Trevecca that he learned to ask such good questions and to tie missional work with business skills. His study of nonprofits, where the mission depends on donors, led him to wonder if he could create a business that wasn’t dependent on fundraising to accomplish its mission. “That’s one of the biggest thing that I loved to learn while I was at Trevecca,” he said. “I love the concept that business has a mission. That’s why Rippl is currently a for-profit organization, but everything we do is about a mission and helping others.” Iris Gordon, director of the Neighborhood Empowerment Program at Trevecca, has walked with Reed and is still cheering for him. “His tagline is ‘Expand your impact. Empower others.’ When I saw that tagline I thought, ‘Well how appropriate, because that’s literally how Lucas has always walked out his values,’” she said. “Sometimes it’s difficult for people to have a lot of clarity on what’s really important to them and stay true to that. From the first day I met Lucas, he had great clarity around his values and was determined to use that to impact others for good.” For Reed, it’s about combining his gifts and compassion. “I feel like God has given me this compassion for people. I also feel that God has given me this entrepreneurial mindset just to have all these visions and ideas to start and create all these new projects.”
Reed, a 2014 Trevecca graduate interacting with locals in Africa on his mission to help others.
Communications Studies Class of 2018
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NEP empowers local nonprofits By Blake Stewart When Patricia Cross reflects on the growth of the non-profit ballet school she oversees, she immediately mentions Iris Gordon. “She has helped us develop systems and offered us resources that we could have never paid for,” said Cross, who 18 years ago founded Rejoice School of Ballet, a non-profit ballet school with a mission to offer excellent ballet training to students from diverse social and economic backgrounds. Around 75 percent of Rejoice dancers receive tuition assistance and all dancers receive dance wear and costumes in an effort to remove barriers to training. “I started a ballet school because I knew it could help so many children. I didn’t know how to best do some of the jobs an executive director has to do and Iris has coached me or connected me with people who can help,” said Cross. Gordon, an adjunct faculty member in the J.V. Morsch Center for Social Justice oversees the center’s Neighborhood Empowerment Program (NEP) at Trevecca. For three years she’s walked alongside Cross and the board and staff at Rejoice to offer coaching and consulting. Rejoice is one of 12 local organizations that the NEP is working with this year under Gordon’s leadership. The diverse group of clients are all dedicated to restoring broken communities and NEP helps these under-resourced non-profit organizations develop strategy and plans to make the organization more sustainable and effective in the community. “The NEP work is a practical manifestation of our biblical mandates to love our neighbor and to seek justice,” Gordon said. “Addressing the layered inequalities of society and repairing the broken systems that created them demands
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strategic systemic responses of a variety of organizations. Our under-resourced clients are critical to restoring our broken communities, but lack access to the services we provide that maximize and sustain their work.” Some of the work NEP has done in the past year includes helping churches decide if and how they should start a nonprofit, facilitating a discussion about whether several nonprofits should merge, consulting with people in the community who have an idea for a nonprofit and offering them coaching to take their concept from a vision to a sustainable organization. The NEP team also helps organizations realign their mission, values, money and message. Perhaps one of the greatest gifts Gordon offers is the ability to engage everyone in an organization, said Kealie Williams, board chair at Rejoice. “Her knowledge and skills, coupled with her ability to engage individuals at varying levels of understanding and engagement with the organization, has allowed Rejoice to assess, focus and improve in many ways,” Williams said. “Iris Gordon is your strategic analyst, constructive critic and biggest champion rolled into one amazing individual. A true gift and we are grateful.” Many of the organizations Gordon serves have important work to do in the community and she’s inspired by their dedication even in the face of many obstacles. For her, helping organizations overcome those obstacles supports the mission of the Center for Social Justice. “I am hopeful that the broken can be restored and I am motivated by the biblical mandate to do justice, love kindness, and to walk humbly with my God,” she said. “I am also inspired by the people we serve who are doing transformative work with
very little.” While Gordon is thankful for the resources Trevecca provides the NEP to assist its clients, she dreams of a day when the university can increase its capacity to serve more clients and offer more services. “My dream is to have a large multifunctional facility to provide direct services, incubation and events for our clients,” she said. “I am very thankful that we access a variety of spaces on campus but a facility will create a consistent collaborative space to nurture collective impact throughout Nashville.”
Current clients of the Neighborhood Empowerment Program: 1. Project Impact 2. Creative Artist of Tennessee 3. Course Change 4. Rippl 5. Nashville Community Outreach Resource Center 6. Napier Community Center 7. Glenview Elementary School 8. Hope Center 9. City of Refuge Center 10. La Familia Resource Center 11. MidSouth District Hispanic Initiative 12. Salvation Army Social Justice Research Center 13. The Art Project 14. Rejoice School of Ballet
Multimedia Journalism Class of 2018
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Trevecca alum travels the world in 334 days C l a s s o f 2 0 1 4 S o c i a l J u s t i c e a l u m n a , O l i v i a O s l e y, s p e n t 1 1 m o n t h s t r a v e l i n g t h e w o r l d w h i l e s e r v i n g o r p h a n s a n d re f u g e e s .
By Andrew Preston Olivia Osley spent the majority of 2015 sleeping on the floor, by choice. Not because she enjoyed the cold, hard and sometimes damp surface; rather she willingly opted to travel the world for 11 months as a missionary through The World Race. “I got a whole lot of exposure to many different cultures and ways of life,” said Osley, a 2014 graduate of Trevecca. “It gave me a whole different perspective on the Holy Spirit. It completely changed my personality.” The World Race is an organization that offers an 11-month experience of serving in 11 different countries to 21 to 35year-olds. Originally from Florida, Osley knew that after she received her degree in social justice at Trevecca she wanted to make a difference in the world by serving others.
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“I learned a lot more about urban poverty (at Trevecca),” she said. “My most influential professor was Jason Adkins for sure. The environmental justice minor was something I wasn’t planning on getting before taking a class with him.” After graduation, Osley stayed at Trevecca to become an assistant Urban Farm manager. But, she remained indecisive about continuing her education or seeking a full-time position in social justice. “I was in a season of not knowing exactly what I wanted to do,” Osley said. “I loved working at the farm and I was interested in the degree at Green Mountain College. I entered a season of feeling restless. God was preparing me to go in a different direction.” During that time, she kept thinking about The World Race and decided to apply.
“It all happened really fast,” Osley said. “Within two weeks I was interviewed and connected to go on the trip.” Osley packed up the few belongings she needed for her 11-month journey across the world in a single backpack. She lived on a $15 budget for all necessities such as food and housing.
The journey begins: India
Osley recalls Churachandpur, India to be much different than she anticipated: no henna, no saris, no Punjabis, no spoken Hindi are among a few of the elements Manipur lacked, she said. “We worked in India, India,” Osley explained. “We were in the northeast. Culturally it was much more like central Asia then like Bollywood.” Her team worked in a Christian village setting up camps and health clinics for Evangelical Free Church of India, but Osley struggled.
“I’m an introvert and on The World Race you’re not allowed to be alone the entire year,” Osley said. “I was a severe introvert and by the time the year was over, I was an extrovert. It was really stretching.” Osley used her first month of The World Race to learn more about those on the trip with her and about her personal self. “It was a great introduction to what The World Race looked like,” Osley said. “The 50 people in your squad become your family. I was on an all-girl team of six.”
No turning back: Nepal
Just 30 days into her 11-month journey, Osley began to face The World Race’s toughest challenge. “Nepal was my crises month,” Osley said. “I didn’t want to go home, but that was when I found out how hard this was going to be.” Half-way around the world, in a country where very few speak
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Photos provided by: Olivia Osley
Top left: Boys of Mozabimque from Beacon of Hope. Bottom left: Osley sits on El Shaddi, a myraid of other mountaintops in Swaziland. Right: South African child and Osley on the neighborhood playground. English, Osley was lost. Osley worked with a women’s ministry (The Agape Mission International) in Kathmandu where she and her team conducted prayer walks around the city. Osley recalls many instances on her trip when she was uncomfortable. None worse than living with 50 people in an apartment. “When I was in Nepal in my second month my entire squad lived together in a single apartment,” said Osley. “It was terrible and disgusting. Everyone was sick; living in community was really hard.”
Adjusting to the culture: South Africa
After spending a month in a Nepali apartment with her entire squad, Osley moved on to Cape Town, South Africa where her team would encounter drastically different living conditions. “We lived in a township,” Osley said. “In South Africa, white people don’t live in townships. It’s very much only for poorer black and mixed,
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South Africans.” “Locals would freak out when we told them where we were staying because it wasn’t normal at all,” Osley explained. “We were in Cape Town so people were genuinely confused.” Osley and her team partnered with Masiphumelele Church in the township where they helped lead Bible studies. “Putting yourself in a very different cultural setting that’s not what you’re used to is very uncomfortable and my favorite part of my time in South Africa,” Osley said. “The six of us lived in one room that month.”
On top of the world: Swaziland
Osley spent her entire month in Swaziland on top of mountains. In Mbabane, Swaziland. Osley and her team stayed at a children’s home called El Shaddai where she encountered things she will soon never forget. “Swaziland was one of the rougher months because I got to see the negative effects of orphanage life on children,” Osley said.
Life goes on: Mozambique
Now in Mozambique, Osley and her team helped with Beacon of Hope in the capital city of Maputo. Beacon of Hope is an organization dedicated to teaching life skills to young boys. The organization provides an education and a home for disadvantaged boys. “It was kind of like a leadership program,” Osley said. “I taught art classes, how to garden, and other general things.” While in Mozambique, Osley learned her trip was fully funded and that she would be switching teams to join a new group of people on The World Race.
Halfway there: Latvia
In Saldus, Latvia, Osley and her team stayed in St. Gregor’s Christian Mission Center, a retreat center where they connected with a local church. “We did a lot of English kids’ camps,” Osley said. In Latvia, Osley and her team also visited elderly homes, taught weekly Bible studies and taught community dance classes.
From mountains to forests: Estonia
Osley recalls another difficult month in Tartu, Estonia where she worked alongside her host building log cabins for the Light in the Forest ministry. “We were living out in the woods,” Osley said. “It was really beautiful, but we really needed a construction crew to finish our project.” Osley lived without electricity or running water, working nine to five days for an entire month. “We cooked over a campfire every meal,” Osley said. “We showered in the pond and used a portapotty.”
Forests to the classroom: Malaysia
In Changlun, Malaysia, Osley and her team moved into a more civil setting. “I taught English at a preschool,” Osley said. “It was a good month. Malaysia is a multicultural nation. There were different religions, nationalities and backgrounds with all the kids we worked with.”
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Next, Osley and her team moved to Masot, Thailand. “For the whole month, we got to work with children that were Burmese refugees in Thailand,” Osley said. “We taught English again and hosted church.”
Back to school: Cambodia
In Cambodia, Osley and her team returned the classroom where they would sleep in the office of a local school. “It was a good month, but at that point I was really tired,” Osley said. “I was praying about what the next steps were for me.” 10 months into her 11-month cross-world experience, Osley recalls the difficulties of the trip. “It gets hard packing up every month,” Osley said.
What it takes: Vietnam
In the final month of The World Race, Osley and her team traveled to Vietnam. “I taught English again,” Osley said. “The preschool director studied in the (United) States and was developing a high-ranking program there, so it was cool to be a part of that.” After visiting 29 cities throughout her journey, Osley recalls being thankful for the transition she had in Vietnam. “It was a great month to end on because they took care of us really well,” Osley said. “We stayed at a hostel.”
Life after The World Race
In Vietnam, Osley discovered her passion: refugees. Osley and her team debriefed in Vietnam, and flew to California. After 11 months away, she was finally home. But, she decided to continue to travel. “I went around the west coast with some of my friends from the Race,” Osley said. “I was home for Christmas.” “I prayed specifically, God would direct my path,” Osley said. “I was not in a position to seek out other things in my life. If God wanted me to go somewhere I prayed he put an opportunity right in front of my face.” Osley didn’t wait long to continue her journey. Three and a half weeks after returning to Nashville, Osley embarked on a five-week trip to Greece. “I literally had just enough money in my bank account to pay for it myself,” Osley said. “I felt like it was a little crazy, but it was what God wanted me to do.” Osley is currently serving in the Middle East with unaccompanied children refugees. “The goal of The World Race is to be on a year of discipleship,” Osley said. “If you’re wanting to take your spiritual life to the next level while also experiencing crosscultural settings, The World Race is the perfect place.” “You should be ready to be stretched and changed,” Osley said. “It’s not easy, but my character and spiritual life changed so much. It wasn’t what I thought it would be at all.”
Andrew Preston Multimedia Journalism Class of 2018
14 Micah Mandate
(1) Teaching English to refugees: Thailand. (2) South Africa township. (3) Osley explores Cape Town, South Africa. (4) An overlook of the city of Nepal.
Trevecca Nazarene University
Trevecca Nazarene University
Micah Mandate 15